I Pitted Pizza Hut's 'Big New Yorker' Against Authentic NYC Slices & There Was One Clear Winner
Pizza can be a polarizing topic around the country with different styles dominating in different regions. Case in point, New York City is famous for its slices of thin-crust pizza, and loyal customers report that they taste better there than anywhere in the country. So, when Pizza Hut re-introduced its take on the New York-style pie, The Big New Yorker Pizza, I had to find out if it could truly compete with the real thing.
First introduced in 1999, The Big New Yorker Pizza gained a huge fan following but it was a limited-time offering and it soon left the menu. For over a decade, customers have been begging for its return across social media platforms, Reddit, and even a Change.org petition with thousands of signatures. But could it compete with a couple of true New York City slices?
I pitted Pizza Hut's The Big New York again slices from the famous New York chain, Joe's Pizza, and a classic $1 slice from a local pizza shop. Also, to be as unbiased as possible, I specifically chose two New York-style pizza shops I had never tried before. I rated each slice on presentation and overall taste, plus, I noted the price of each slice. Here are the results from my least favorite slice to the best overall.
New York $1 Slice
On hundreds of street corners in Manhattan, New York you'll find signs and storefronts for $1 slice pizza shops. They are staple spots for locals and tourists on a budget to get a quick, cheap, jumbo slice of authentic NY-style pizza. To compare the look and taste with the other two pizzas in this taste test, I ordered a simple pepperoni slice and it came out to $2 (due to the additional topping).
The look: At first glance, this slice of pizza looks exactly like what you pay for. The slices of pepperoni were huge—which is something I look forward to as a pep-lover—but they didn't look quite right at first glance. They were flimsy and they didn't crisp up as most do after being in a hot oven. Also, the crust was too thin and a little burnt at the very top. However, the sight of bubbly cheese made my mouth water as I tried to capture a good picture.
Taste: Overall, I wouldn't go back to this pizza shop for a slice of pepperoni pizza again (and I've had some amazing $1 slices in my lifetime). As uninviting as the pepperoni slices looked, is about as bad as they tasted. They had a very dry and rubbery texture.
The ratio of toppings was off as well, there was nearly double the amount of cheese than there was sauce. Underneath it all, the pizza crust was too doughy and soft and it had the flavor of paper. Perhaps after a few drinks and for a much-needed carb-pick-me-up, this slice of pizza will do.
Pizza Hut 'Big New Yorker'
Pizza Hut's The Big New Yorker is a 16-inch pizza that divides into six oversized, foldable slices and is designed to imitate an authentic New York pizza. It has a crispy crust, a layer of sweet marinara sauce, extra-extra cheese, Parmesan oregano seasoning, and two different kinds of pepperoni. It's available in stores for a limited time and costs about $13.99 a pie (prices may vary by location) and I calculated a single slice to cost between $3-4.
Look: Grease is usually inevitable when pepperoni is involved, but this pizza was far greasier than the others. As soon as I picked up a slice I noticed how floppy and soft it looked. One thing I was excited about was the oregano seasoning, as it was sprinkled really nicely all over. The crust also looked full and crisp, with delicious dough bubbles throughout the pie.
Taste: There are some things this pizza does right and some things that aren't so great. For starters, the slices of pepperoni were crispy and flavorful. The oregano seasoning was another pleasing addition to this pizza, it went well with all the toppings and gave a slightly similar flavor palette to the classic NY-style slice.
However, this dish falls short on the texture and quality of the dough. The crust was chewy and dense and it felt really heavy in my stomach. The proportion of sauce and cheese wasn't bad, but neither of them added much to the flavor. In my honest opinion, this pizza tastes like a larger version of Pizza Hut, with a touch of extra seasoning and grease.
Famous Joe's Pizza
Famous Joe's Pizza was established in 1975 by Joe Pozzuoli, who is originally from Naples, Italy, (which happens to be the birthplace of pizza!). The joint has been serving up the classic New York slice for over 47 years to movie stars, iconic politicians, and everyday New Yorkers from each of the five locations in the city. Joe's Pizza prides itself on baking each pie in a coal-burning oven and using freshly imported ingredients. From the wide range of options, I stuck with a simple pepperoni slice to see how it held up and if it's really famous for good reason. My total came out to $5 for the one slice.
Look: This pizza slice was generous in just about every component; there was a good layer of cheese, fresh sauce peaking out the top and sides, and huge pieces of pepperoni spread out perfectly. As for the pizza dough, it looked fresh and airy. Plus, the loose flour powder dusted over the top of the crust gave off the impression it was rolled out that morning.
Taste: With a mixture of sweet and savory coming from the smooth tomato sauce and all the flavor dripping from the cheese and peps, I was undoubtedly a BIG fan of this pizza. Even though there was no Instagramable cheese pull, it was creamy and melted in my mouth. I also really appreciated that all of the toppings complimented each other very well, and they held up well due to the firm and crispy (but not burnt!) pizza crust. Each bite was light, fluffy, and so tasty I almost wanted to grab another slice. It was the ultimate winner of this taste test, without question.
While I didn't love Pizza Hut's attempt at New York-style pizza, it wasn't the worst pizza I've ever had. I really did enjoy the seasoning and every bite that contained a juicy piece of pepperoni. But the dough and other toppings, such as the cheese and tomato sauce, were just not up to the authentic standard. It lacked the homemade taste, to me, it only mimicked the size of a NY slice.
As for the other competitors, there's a clear winner in look, taste, and overall authenticity. Famous Joe's Pizza blew both Pizza Hut and the staple $1 slice out of the water. The freshness took the pizza to another level of great, but what shocked me was how the sauce was both sweet and savory, pairing perfectly with the soft cheese and thin, delectable crust. If you're looking to devour a classic New York-style slice of pizza, you should definitely make the trip. Although, if travel isn't in your future, then the Pizza Hut imitation of NYC pizza will have to be your mediocre substitute.